Oregon Now First State to Add Non-Binary Option on Drivers Licenses

The United States’s perspectives on gender are evolving, and nowhere is that more clear than in Oregon. State officials just took the unprecedented step of adding a third gender option to driver’s licenses, allowing people who don’t consider themselves either male or female to not have to attach one of those two labels to their government identification.

The change is thanks to the activism of Jamie Shupe, a non-binary Army veteran. After Shupe pursued hormone therapy, they [they being Shupe’s preferred pronoun] decided that they didn’t feel quite like a man or woman. Accordingly, Shupe asked a judge to legally recognize him as non-binary, a request that Judge Amy Holmes Henh granted.

Since that initial court victory, several other people have come forward to receive the same recognition from the state. Rather than requiring that each individual petition the state, the Transportation Commission agreed on Thursday to make a third gender option available to everyone.

Starting July 3, drivers in Oregon will have the option to choose between F (female), M (male) and X. The state selected X as the third letter because it is already recognized internationally and by the United Nations.

More importantly, not all of the petitioners Oregon has had for a third gender option identify as non-binary – others refer to themselves as agender or intersex. For now, X serves as a catchall for those outside of the traditional gender binary.

Ship, a trailblazer for non-binary people in America, is pleasantly surprised that the battle never got particularly contentious. Throughout the process, Oregon officials seemed receptive and ultimately accommodating to their requests.

Even when the state held public hearings on the matter, the vast majority of comments were in favor of allowing the change to driver’s licenses.

“In the end, the huge legal and non-binary civil rights battle that I expected to unfold going into this never came to pass, simply because this was always the right thing to do all along,” said Shupe.

Indeed, we tend to see civil rights progress obtained following prolonged struggle, so it’s encouraging when we see instances where our power structure facilitates change rather than opposes it.

By Shupe’s own admission, though, seeing the X option appear on licenses throughout the country might require a lot more of a fight. “The journey and the fight isn’t over yet,” they said.

At least that journey is moving forward. While Oregon was the first state to take this important step, it looks like it could have company from its neighbor to the south soon enough. Last month, the California State Senate voted in favor of a bill that would give a third gender option to the state’s driver’s licenses. Now, it awaits a vote from CA’s House of Representatives.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

69 comments

Philippa P
Philippa Pabout a month ago

Thanks.

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Christine V
Christine V1 months ago

All states should do this

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Carl R
Carl R1 months ago

Thanks!!!!

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Elaine W
Elaine W1 months ago

Noted with pride in my State's example.

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Carl R
Carl R1 months ago

Thanks!!!

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S1 months ago

noted

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Joemar K
Joemar K1 months ago

Thanks

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S1 months ago

noted

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RK R
RK R1 months ago

Three gender choices are not enough.

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S1 months ago

noted

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